Torpedo is one of those secondary characters, that really had a rebirth after the vintage line ended, as he made numerous appearances in the preceding lines, especially the 25th Anniversary era, where Torpedo was definitely one of the better looking figures. It’s an odd thing, just due to the fact Torpedo never had the popularity that Wet Suit had. Torpedo’s upswing in usage really started in 1997. His mold had been used in India, and when most of those molds were recalled, Hasbro quickly put them to use for the 1997 line, so he was a natural fit, with numerous other early era repaints.
The 1997 Torpedo is simultaneously darker, and more colourful than the 1983 Torpedo. While the original’s grey has been darkened significantly, there was also red seams added on, and this splash of colour really does a lot for the Torpedo mold. It gives it a little oomph, that the mold never really had otherwise. The nice thing about the red stripes, is it that it’s muted fairly well, and doesn’t really cause much in the way of distraction, it’s not overly bright like some red highlights on black figures have been. The other nice thing about the red, is it calls attention to the sculpting on the figure, as the stripe goes over the seams of the wetsuit that were sculpted, but generally are left unpainted, because that’s how a real life wetsuit would have them.
Of course being a figure in a dive suit makes Torpedo one of the least useful Joe figures. It’s an unfortunate fact, because it’s a solid sculpt, but aquatic figures are kind of a niche, and that’s an aspect that’s hard to work around. Especially when your main focus in collecting is photos, where unless there’s water around, a dude in a Wet Suit with a spear gun, isn’t going to be looking all that natural.
It’s funny, because for years there was a fair amount of derision pointed at the 1997 figures. However that came about in an era where nothing after 1987 (except Shockwave and Hit And Run) were good, unless it was a recent retail release like the ARAHC. Now years later, as the worm has turned somewhat, those perceived timeless classics of 2001 haven’t aged well, and the 1997 figures receive a little more positive attention, though they’re still fairly under the radar. I’ve grown to really appreciate the figures, as they have a little bit of charm, in how hard they were trying to be like vintage figures.
Some attempts at being time warped vintage figures were more successful than others, this version of Torpedo is definitely one of them. It’s really not all that different from something that could’ve seen release at some point in the 80s, while also being a new take on a figure. If I had to choose which version of Torpedo is my favourite, I’d likely say the 1997 version.
One big issue for the entire series, is the fact that the 1997 quality is hit and miss. One issue is that Kenner used slightly larger shoulder rivets, which can lead to cracks in the plastic around them. Another issue that’s exclusive to Torpedo (as well as later on, Wet Down), is that the foot peg on the flippers and the hole in the feet aren’t completely compatible, so this version of Torpedo is up there with the 1983 Tripwire, and the 1984 Zartan for fragile heels. I put the flipper in his right foot when attempting photos for this profile and a stress crack developed immediately. So this version of Torpedo won’t be donning his flippers ever again.
Despite this figure being packaged with a repurposed Night Landing Craft, Torpedo was given the whole gamut of Torpedo accessories. The NLC also included it’s batch of accessories, too, so that set was quite a value. Torpedo’s speargun and flippers would weren’t overall unique, but the backpack is unique to this figure, as it’s done up in different shade of black than the common 2000s era backpack, and also features orange air tanks like the 1983 Torpedo backpack.
When it comes to the 1997 and 1998 series’ of figures, there’s a lot of good figures in those releases. However, very few of these figures are improvements over earlier releases, they’re usually decent and a different take on the mold, but not objectively better. This version of Torpedo is one of the few figures (Others are the ’98 Ace and Heavy Duty) that I’d argue is an improvement over the vintage use of the mold. Considering that the original Torpedo was quite a plain figure, that might come off as damning with faint praise, but I’m actually quite a big fan of the original Torpedo, as well as other uses of the mold.